Some people know from their very first job, that working for someone else isn’t for them. Some of us are forced into entrepreneurship either through a lay-off or impending infrastructure changes. And some of us are led on a professional journey, full of twists and turns, eventually enlightened by the fact that no job will ever allow us to live our purpose in a way that’s meaningful to us.
However we come to this exhilarating yet anxiety laden fork in the road, we have to decide whether to launch or not. A large part of making that decision depends on whether or not we have what it takes to be successful as entrepreneurs. No one forces us into launching a business. In fact it’s very easy to keep dreaming of being your own boss without taking any action– many people talk about starting a business, fewer actually go from dream to action.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, especially when you are running a business and working a day job. Before you start the process, it makes sense to consider whether or not you really have what it takes. Here are four lessons, observed from one of our favorite shows – The Shark Tank.
Make Your Own Decisions, but Listen to Wise Advice from Others
An entrepreneur needs to be able to listen to people who have more experience, from their peers and from their customers. An entrepreneur needs to fully and deeply understand their market, their customers, their current situation, their problems and their potential solutions. That said, no matter how much experience your advisors have, you ultimately have to be the one to make the decision. An entrepreneur must be willing to call their own shots, sometimes even if it goes against what their advisors with more experience suggest – if that’s what your gut tells you to do.
- #SharkTank Observation: Yes you are the boss but that doesn’t mean you have all the answers. You also don’t have a magic wand that makes business deals work for you just as you imagine despite the numbers (which don’t add up) and how people really buy (even if they liked your Facebook page). A proven successful business model may indeed be worth millions – but please pay attention to the two key words – proven and successful. Until you have concrete data or profit, seek, listen, learn, and apply the feedback you get from those who are more experienced than and who have actually gotten results.
Trust Your Instincts About People and Deals
Ever get the sense that you just can’t trust someone? Or the sense that you genuinely want to do business with someone? Do you trust these instincts?
Successful entrepreneurs have learned how to trust their instincts. The two most important instincts you need to possess and be able to rely on are your instincts about people and business deals. When a business proposition is presented to you, do you have a strong internal compass that tells you “yes” or “no”? How well do you listen to and how comfortable are you trusting these instincts?
The best business decisions are not made just on numbers and projections. Although those are important, the real decision often comes down to whether or not your instincts tell you go forward. Your instincts will usually be right.
- #SharkTank Observation: Daymond John @DaymondTheShark is quick to dismiss potential partners based on his sense of the individuals personality and work style. Even if he likes a product, it is not uncommon to hear an “I’m out,” because he “knows” that he will not be able to work with the person. Not only is he cued in to his gut reaction to the other persons communication style and attitude, more importantly he knows exactly the kind of partners that he can thrive with and which ones will be a nightmare to work with.
When You See an Opportunity Make a Move (Even If You Don’t Have All the Answers)
Research and planning are important – but it doesn’t mean you spend two years writing a business plan and conducting market research. At some point you have to just go for it: “Ready, fire, aim” rather than “ready, aim, fire.” Then, take the results you get from actually working your business, rework your plan in real time and keep moving forward.
There are MBA-types who study businesses hypothetically without actually building businesses tend to “think” about business a lot. And then there are the trailblazers, entrepreneurs who are much more inclined “to do” something and see what the results are. To make things work, you’ve got to be ready to take action, even when you don’t have all the pieces in place.
- #SharkTank Observation: Barbara Corcoran @Barbaracorcoran has vision. Watch her closely in her Shark Seat and you can almost see the wheels turning. She may not have all the answers but she will take action and invest, confident that she and her new partner will work out the details. When you consider how she started, deciding to plunge into the NYC real estate market as her first business venture – it makes perfect sense that she looks for that same passion and drive that she had along with that willingness to just get in there and make things work.
Be Willing to Take Risks… Sometimes Really Big Risks with Your Own Resources
Are you willing to risk everything you have on your ideas? Sometimes that’s what’s really necessary in order to get your venture launched off the ground. Many entrepreneurs have had to sell their homes to fund their businesses. Some have had to leverage enough of their corporate equity that they’d lose control of their own company if anything went wrong, in order to fund the next stage of their growth.
To really succeed in running your own business, you’ve got to be willing to take risks. Sometimes those risks will feel humongous, but you’ve got to be willing to take them anyway.
- #SharkTank Observation: The risk you are willing to take is invested in your business, you’ll have a hard time convincing other people that they should. One of the constant questions from the Sharks is, “How much have you invested?” If’you haven’t been willing to take a risk and invest your business, you will not value the investment that anyone else makes in your business. Asking people to invest once you have a proven business model is a good move – but asking investors to cough up funds to “test” out your idea won’t never seems to go over well.
To sum it up, the four lessons are:
- Act, and
- Take risks
Even if you are never a contestant on The Shark Tank, these lessons are valuable in helping you launch smart and land profitable.
If you are stuck – schedule a free “Next Best Move” strategy session so we can identify the next three action steps to get you closer towards a profitable part-time business.
- Entrepreneur uses reality show experience to teach youth about business (charlotte.news14.com)
- Your Quick and Dirty Guide to Sharktank (blogmaverick.com)
- 5 Entrepreneurship Lessons From ABC’s Shark Tank (openforum.com)
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